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Rains replenish mosquitoes and prompt repeat spraying

The mosquito control folks are spraying and spraying again as flooding provides hatcheries for the bloodsucking pests.

By BRADY DENNIS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 3, 2002

The mosquito control folks are spraying and spraying again as flooding provides hatcheries for the bloodsucking pests.

The Fourth of July evokes visions of barbecue and sunshine and fireworks. But it's also the high season for mosquitoes.

The recent downpours in Pasco County have only helped spur the spread of the pesky bloodsuckers. And they have mosquito control folks working extra hard, both by air and by land.

"We worked over the weekend," said Jim Robinson, director for Pasco County Mosquito Control. "We're trying to do the best we can. The guys are putting in a lot of time working pretty hard."

Thanks to the rain, it's slow going. Robinson said the downpours flood an area, then mosquito eggs hatch. But by the time crews spray the area, rain often comes and floods it again.

"The insecticides we use only work for short periods of time," Robinson said. "We wind up doing an awful lot of retreatment where there are continual floods."

Robinson said the county runs six trucks on the ground to spray for adult mosquitoes and two helicopters to spray for larvae.

With the increase of mosquitoes comes the added concern of the diseases they might carry. Pasco County Health Department director Marc Yacht said the presence of both West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis are concerns this year, but primarily in animals, not humans.

"We just sort of watch and wait," Yacht said. "There's no way to predict whether we will or won't have cases. So far, so good."

Both Robinson and Yacht said residents can help by being vigilant around their own homes.

"It's the old line on it: Make sure you don't have standing water around for more than a day or two," Robinson said.

He said that includes anything from tarps that collect water, to children's toys, to clogged rain gutters, to old tires. Mosquito control employees will even come collect old tires. All residents need to do is call.

Robinson also urged residents to stay inside during peak mosquito times at dusk and dawn. He also said to wear mosquito repellent and long sleeves, pants and socks when outdoors.

For more information on mosquito issues, call Pasco County Mosquito Control at (727) 376-4568.

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